4 terrific space-saving ideas for building recessed shelves

December 4, 2014

When faced with limited space in your home, creativity is key to adding storage space. To inspire you, here are four terrific space-saving ideas for building recessed shelves.

4 terrific space-saving ideas for building recessed shelves

A common problem with small living spaces is lack of room for shelving and storage.

  • Sometimes decluttering your space isn't an option because you may not have many items to begin with. The space is, after all, small and you might already be stripped down to the bare essentials.
  • In addition, cabinets can take up a lot of real estate and building customized ones can be costly.

So what's the solution? Recessed shelves!

If you're thinking about building recessed shelves in your home to create some much-needed extra storage space, here are four terrific space-saving ideas to consider:

1. Create recessed shelving on an existing wall

If your home has existing walls using 2" x 6" lumber frames with a minimum of 24-inch centres, it's feasible to build recessed shelves on them. You'll have to remove a section of the gyprock from the interior of a non-supporting wall in order to install the shelves between the exposed studs.

  • Use an electronic stud finder to check the space.
  • Then, measure the depth of the wall through an exposed end to determine the lumber size.
  • Next, make a box shelf that will fit the opening on the wall.
  • Install the shelf and trim the exterior to tidy it up.
  • Finally, you can repaint or add framing to provide an element of styling.

2. Convert a narrow closet

If you need even more room for books and other knick-knacks, building a deeper shelf will do the trick.

  • You can convert a narrow closet into a recessed shelf by removing the door.
  • You have the option to remove the exterior trim or leave it for added effect. After adding the shelves, repaint it for a clean finish.

3. Scale down an unused utility area

The process is similar to converting a narrow closet.

  • If large enough, space can be converted into an open pantry, or a space for larger household items such as cleaning supplies, tools, or off-season clothing.

4. Revive a kitchen pass-through

A home's kitchen pass-through is often wasted space. This pass-through is not always used, so sometimes a good option is to utilize this space for something practical or even aesthetically pleasing.

  • An advantage to reviving this section is that you don't need to remove anything.
  • For one-sided shelves, use 2" x 4" lumber to frame the opposite side's opening.
  • Inset at a half inch from the interior edge before fitting in sheetrock to the opening.
  • Paint to blend with the wall and then insert the shelves on the open side.
  • You can build either one-sided or double-sided recessed shelving.
  • Adding glass shelves for more transparency opens things up visually.

Knowing how to build recessed shelves in your home can increase storage space and the value of a home. However, it does require careful planning and some confidence with woodwork and framing for larger projects. Consider consulting an expert carpenter, especially for bigger areas or projects.

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